“Lábios Que Beijei” – “Nada Além” – “Enquanto Houver Saudade”

Lyrics for “Lábios que beijei” by J. Cascata and Leonel Azevedo, recorded by Orlando Silva (1937)

___

Lábios que beijei / Lips that I kissed
Mãos que afaguei / Hands that I clutched
Numa noite de luar, assim, / On a moonlit night like this
O mar na solidão bramia/ The sea in its solitude bellowed
E o vento a soluçar, pedia / And the howling wind begged
Que fosses sincera para mim/ That you be true to me

Nada tu ouviste/ You listened to nothing
E logo que partiste / And after you left
Para os braços de outro amor/ For the arms of another love
Eu fiquei chorando/ I was left crying
Minha mágoa cantando/ My anguish singing out
Sou estátua perenal da dor / I’m a longstanding statue of pain

Passo os dias soluçando com meu pinho/ I spend my days sobbing with my guitar
Carpindo a minha dor, sozinho/ Wailing out my pain, all alone
Sem esperanças de vê-la jamais / Without any hopes of seeing you again
Deus tem compaixão deste infeliz/ God have mercy on this wretch
Porque sofrer assim/  Why such suffering
Compadecei-vos dos meus ais / Take pity on my pain
Tua imagem permanece imaculada / Your image remains immaculate
Em minha retina cansada/ In my retina grown weary
De chorar por teu amor/ From crying for your love

Lábios que beijei/ Lips that I kissed
Mãos que afaguei/ Hands that I clutched
Volta vem curar a minha dor/ Come back to cure my sorrow


Lyrics from “Nada Além” by Custódio Mesquita and Mário Lago, recorded by Orlando Silva (1938)

___
Nada além / Nothing more
Nada além de uma ilusão/ Nothing more than an illusion
Chega bem / That’s well enough
Que é demais para o meu coração / It’s too much for my heart
Acreditando / Believing
Em tudo que o amor mentindo sempre diz / In everything that love, lying, always says
Eu vou vivendo assim feliz / I go on living happily like this
Na ilusão de ser feliz/ Under the illusion of being happy
Se o amor só nos causa sofrimento e dor / If love only causes us suffering and pain
É melhor, bem melhor a ilusão do amor/ Better, much better, is the illusion of love
Eu não quero e não peço / I don’t wish for, nor do I ask
Para o meu coração/ for my heart
Nada além de uma linda ilusão / Anything more than a beautiful illusion


Lyrics from “Enquanto Houver Saudade” by Custódio Mesquita and Mário Lago, recorded by Orlando Silva (1938)

___

Não posso acreditar / I just can’t believe
Que algumas vezes/ That now and then
Não lembres com vontade de chorar/ You don’t think back with the urge to cry
Daqueles deliciosos quatro meses/ On those four heavenly months
Vividos sem sentir e sem pensar/ Lived without sensing and without thinking

Não posso acreditar/ I just can’t believe
Que hoje não sintas/ That today you don’t feel
Saudade dessa história singular/ Suadade for that singular story
Escrita com as mais suaves tintas/ Written in the tenderest shades
Que existem pra escrever o verbo amar/ That exist to write the verb ‘to love’

Enquanto houver saudade/ As long as saudade exists
Pensarás em mim/ You’ll think about me
Pois a felicidade/ Because happiness
Não se esquece assim/ Isn’t forgotten so easily
O amor passa mas deixa/ Love passes, but leaves
Sempre a recordação/ Forever the memory
De um beijo ou de uma queixa/ Of a kiss or a complaint
No coração/ In the heart

— Commentary —

pixinguinha_e_orlando_silva
Orlando Silva (L) and Pixinguinha. (Not quite sure of date – will insert when I find it!)
Orlando_Silva_VaiGRavar
“Lábios que beijei” was an anticipated release: In its April 25, 1936, edition, the magazine Carioca announced the Orlando Silva was preparing to record the song, which was released the following year.

I know most readers who end up here are more interested in the likes of Caetano Veloso and João Gilberto  than romantic valsas from the late 1930s. But as Caetano points out in his memoir Verdade Tropical (1997), João Gilberto called Orlando Silva (1915-1978) the “world’s greatest singer,” and in the few interviews Gilberto granted, he almost unfailingly mentioned Orlando Silva’s refined style as the inspiration for bossa nova.

In Verdade Tropical, Caetano (who turns 66 today — August 7, 2018 — parabéns, Caetano!) suggests that “any fan of Brazilian popular music, in any corner of the world, should try to listen to Orlando Silva’s recordings from the 1930s to better understand (and get more pleasure from) the mystery of the misty sound of the Portuguese language over the Afro-Amerindian rhythm-scape.”

Custodio_Mesquita_Mario_Lago_e_Orlando_Silva.jpg
Custódio Mesquita (at piano), Mário Lago, and Orlando Silva. Image via Instituto Piano Brasileiro.

Caetano praises Silva’s “celestial suaveness,” his inventive phrasing, exquisite timing and overall “miraculous” musicality.  Silva had a powerful voice but always used it artfully; he softened, rather than exaggerated, the high notes he hit, for instance, and avoided the vocal “exhibitionism” of his counterparts, Caetano notes.

Silva was known as the cantor dos multidões —  the singer of the masses — and achieved an unparalleled kind of stardom after he released “Lábios que beijei” in 1937. Fans were known to tear at his clothes and faint in his presence in a manner that would only become more familiar with stars like Frank Sinatra years later. His extraordinary success was all the more impressive given his humble background: Silva was from a working-class family in Rio’s North Zone. His father, a choro guitar player and railway worker, died from the Spanish flu when Silva was three, and as a young boy, Silva began working as a meal deliverer. He held several jobs, including bus-fare collector, where his colleagues heard him singing and encouraged him to go to a radio test; once radio producers became aware of Silva, he quickly rose to stardom.

As Caetano points out, Silva created an entirely new style of Brazilian song with his brilliant manner of adjusting his interpretive style to the advent of the electric microphone. Bing Crosby was among the first to have successfully pioneered such changes in singing technique in the United States, where electric recording took off earlier. In turn, while Brazilian singers Dick Farney and Lúcio Alves — men “much richer and better educated than Orlando,” Caetano reminds — worked to incorporate Crosby’s techniques, “there’s more Bing Crosby in Orlando Silva (who possibly heard the American singer, but very little and without a chance to become very familiar with his work) than in those showy singers.”

Several accidents and sicknesses throughout his life left Silva susceptible to morphine dependence, and he struggled with drug and alcohol addiction from the 1940s until his death from a stroke on August 7, 1978 — Caetano’s thirty-sixth birthday.

“Lábios que beijei” was Orlando Silva’s first and greatest hit, according to music historian Jairo Severiano, who wrote that the “melancholy composition never found another interpreter as perfect as the young Orlando, who was 22 at the time,” and that Silva’s presence is so important to the song that one could “symbolically consider him a partner in the composition, alongside Cascata and Leonel Azevedo.” Radamés Gnattali orchestrated “Lábios que beijei” for the 1937 recording, giving an emphasis to the strings that, after the success of that recording, became standard for the Brazilian romantic repertoire.

Screenshot 2018-08-07 at 12.12.45 PM
An announcement from the newspaper A Noite from July 10, 1937, describes the show “Rumo ao Cattete,” which had opened the night before at Teatro Recreio. 

“Nada Além” and  “Enquanto Houver Saudade” were both composed by one of the greatest duos in Brazilian popular music — Custódio Mesquita and Mário Lago — for the 1937 show Rumo ao Cattete (Headed to Catete’ [presidential palace]) — about the presidential elections that were set to take place in late 1937 but were cancelled by Getúlio Vargas’s November 1937 coup that installed his Estado Novo regime.  As Jairo Severiano recounts in A Canção no Tempo, “Nada Além” accompanied a comic-romantic scene in which a character played by Armando Nascimento watches as a shop salesman pitches several items to him; when the salesman sees that his would-be client can’t make up his mind, he asks him, “So what does the gentleman desire?,” to which the fellow responds in song: “Nada além, nada além de uma ilusão…”

In a 1984 interview with Jairo Severiano and Paulo Tapajós, Mário Lago recalled that he and Custódio Mesquita composed “Enquanto houver saudade” at the last minute because they realized they needed a song for another scene in the show. As they composed the song, Armando Nascimento learned it line by line as it came together. Lago and Mesquita apparently worked quite well under pressure: The song became one of their best-loved compositions. Mesquita invited Orlando Silva to attend the show, and Lago recounted that when they asked Silva afterwards how he had liked it, he said with urgency, “I want to record those two songs – has anyone claimed them yet?” They were his.

Lago recalled that “Nada além” became a favorite of Dona Canô — Caetano and Maria Bethânia’s mother — and Bethânia went on to record the song.  Meanwhile, in the 1984 interview mentioned above, Lago called his friend Custódio Mesquita “one of the most ‘wronged’ (injustiçado) composers of all time,” with some of the most beautiful melodies in the Brazilian popular repertoire, who “didn’t deserve to be forgotten like he’d been forgotten.”

Caetano sings “Labios que beijei”:

Caetano sings “Nada Além”:

 

Sources for this post:  Verdade Tropical by Caetano Veloso; A Canção no Tempo by Jairo Severiano and Zuza Homem de Mello; conversation with Jairo Severiano on Aug. 7, 2018; and Mário Lago’s depoimento for the Projeto Memória Musical Carioca, recorded by Jairo Severiano and Paulo Tapajós at Rio’s Arquivo da Cidade on September 4, 1984.

Mario Lago, Orlando Silva, Custodio Mesquita
A different angle: Mesquita,Lato, and Silva. 

 

1 thought on ““Lábios Que Beijei” – “Nada Além” – “Enquanto Houver Saudade””

  1. Thank you for Nada Além. I know it from the earliest Bethania albums I acquired but hadn’t realized its beginnings. The history of songs is important. Your work is simply imprescindível for us Anglophones.

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